Datacenter cooling is a hugely important issue, which is why it’s so commonly talked about amongst industry professionals.
It’s no secret that datacenters use a vast amount of electricity. Therefore, they often generate incredible levels of heat. This heat must be carefully controlled, as it poses serious levels of risk to the servers, storage devices and hardware housed within the datacenter.
Unfortunately, controlling the temperature of a datacenter isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can be tricky, expensive and it’ll often involve the consumption of huge amounts of energy to keep equipment housed in perfect conditions. In fact, cooling requirements are one of the key reasons why businesses tend to move to colocation datacenters, as in-house cooling can become inefficient in terms of both time and money.
Modern datacenters rely on a range of different cooling technologies to maintain optimal temperatures, reducing the risk of damage, data loss and downtime that can be caused by excessive heat. Read on and we’ll explain more about what datacenter cooling tech does, and why it’s so vital for growing businesses today.
Why does datacenter cooling matter?
Cooling is one of the main priorities of datacenter management. Datacenters must be cooled at all times, in order to keep rising heat in check and protect the servers and hardware that datacenters have within them.
Storage devices, networking hardware and servers all generate heat to some level. When they’re working at full capacity, and surrounded by other servers and hardware doing exactly the same thing, heat levels can quickly start to increase beyond the temperatures that can be tolerated by this sensitive equipment. If the space isn’t then cooled, then damage can start to occur.
The main risks are damage to the fragile components of servers and hardware, and a reduction in the overall lifespan of different pieces of equipment. You don’t need us to tell you that much of this equipment represents a huge level of investment for a company, so any reduction in its lifespan will lead to considerable cost increases.
Datacenters are always kept cool to limit the risk of damage to components, and keep equipment working at full potential. This increases the lifespan of equipment and ensures that unexpected downtime can’t occur as a result of heat damage within the datacenter.
Current datacenter cooling technology
Leading datacenters rely on a whole host of different cooling technologies to maintain specified temperatures. Take a look at some of the most commonly used cooling options in top datacenters today.
Computer Room Air Conditioner (CRAC): A CRAC, or computer room air conditioner, is a type of air conditioner that has been specifically designed for use within datacenters and server rooms. They’re an affordable option, which is why we so often see them being used, but they do use a high level of energy and can therefore be expensive to run.
Computer Room Air Handler (CRAH): If a datacenter is located in a place with a relatively cool climate, a CRAH is a great option. It uses air from outside the datacenter’s walls, along with fans and chilled water to reduce the temperature inside.
Calibrated Vectored Cooling (CVC): High density services are often cooled using a method called Calibrated Vectored Cooling, or CVC. This option makes it possible to increase the number of circuit boards on each server chassis, by improving airflow within the room.
Evaporative Cooling: Warm air from within the datacenter can be cooled using water, which will evaporate and cool the air down as a result. This is a good option if energy usage is a concern, but it does involve a high level of water consumption to function.
Free Cooling: Another energy efficient option that is great for datacenters that are located in cooler places, free cooling can make use of cold air from outside. It brings in colder air from outside the building to reduce the air temperature inside, rather than relying solely on technology that cools the temperature of the same air within the datacenter. Unfortunately, it won’t work in warmer climates, but it is brilliantly useful for many datacenters around the world.
Chilled Water System: Datacenters sometimes have their own chiller plants, which can be used to facilitate cooling via a chilled water system. This method uses chilled water to reduce the temperature in the datacenter, cooling the air using specially designed air handlers.
Cold Aisle and Hot Aisle Containment: Some datacenters rely on a method of cooling known as cold and hot aisle containment. This involves creating alternate cold and hot aisles, with air intakes and air exhausts on the front and back of racks. Hot air being expelled will therefore go straight into the air intakes to be cooled, and the overall temperature is reduced efficiently.
Raised Floor: Purpose-built datacenters can be designed with facilities for cooling technologies already built in. The creation of a raised floor is a prime example of this. It involves lifting the floor of the datacenter, to allow room for cooling pipes or better airflow beneath the floor. The space can also be used to run power cables through. When datacenters are designed in this way, they can be cooled more efficiently.
Datacenter cooling in the future
Demands on datacenters look set to rise over the coming years and decades. We can expect to see further developments in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things leading the way in increasing data usage, and therefore our reliance on datacenters. As a result, it’s likely that the importance of datacenter cooling will only grow as we begin to depend more and more on the reliability of datacenters around the world.
Datacenter cooling is already an important issue in the industry, but its prevalence will only increase as we continue to look for better, more energy efficient ways of keeping datacenters at optimal temperatures. Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting developments from some of the brightest minds of the industry over the coming years.
At TRG Datacenters, we build the best datacenter experiences. We don’t accept anything below fault tolerance for our facilities, and we’ve made customer experience our top priority. Contact us to find out more about what we do.